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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Help with hands!!! Im desperate!

    I started riding dressage about a little over a year ago. My horse and I did hunters previously but he is learning dressage. However my big problem is my hands. I feel like a little kid, they post with me and move with me. I never had this problem when I rode hunters and I have been riding for around 15 years on and off.

    How do I steady them? I have tried a bucking strap on my dressage saddle so that I can just hold my hands there for now, but they still move horribly! Its so embarrassing because I am going recognized this spring in training level. My trainer has told me to push down when I post so that they remain steady but that has only helped a bit.

    Any tips on how to get them steady again? I never had this problem before!! I am ready to tie them to my saddle (kidding of course) but I am so frustrated!!
    Last edited by LD1129; Jan. 23, 2008 at 01:13 PM.



  2. #2
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    Default

    Without seeing you, I'm guessing that it's tension in the shoulders, upper body, and elbows.

    When you post, try thinking about bringing your hips *through* your elbows. That requires keeping elbows down, back and 'heavy.' Hips dance forward through them. Upper body stays more back than in hunter posting, but slightly inclined.

    I have had students undo the pad straps on their saddle pad, then put their pinkies through the straps, to help get the feeling. Straps have to be long enough (most square pads are, especially if they are velcro) for hands to be in the right spot. Twine to the dees set at the right length will work too. Basically, what you want is to limit your hands' motion until you can figure out what that feels like in the rest of your body.

    FWIW, if your instructor had you use your hands to fix the horrible headset... um... not so much a dressage instructor. That could be part of why they're unable to fix the problem. ('head set" is not part of dressage. Getting the hind end working, coming through the back, results in the horse's head coming into a natural position which looks correct, but the head is just the barometer of the back end... The head can be 'set' without anything else being right... but if everything else is right, the head will naturally be where it should be... )
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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  3. #3
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    Think of "posting through your elbows." It's a good technique for steadying your hands.

    Edited to add: we were posting at the same time, pintopiaffe. Obviously, great minds think alike!
    Quote Originally Posted by rascalpony View Post
    I refuse to ride my cat out of the kitchen, mainly because I don't want to pay the hospital bills.



  4. #4
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    Thanks I will try posting through my elbows.

    pintopiaffe I posted incorrectly when I said to use my hands for head set. I understand totally what you are saying and I meant that the steadiness of my hands helps so that his head does not wag slightly back and forth. I occasionally use my ring finger to encourage him to stretch down. I have a hard time explaining it



  5. #5
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    Feb. 13, 2005
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    Default

    I am still working on this ugly habit (same problem, moved from hunt seat to eventing where I had to learn to control my hands). This worked fo rme, although it took about 2 weeks before I felt genuinely comfortable with my hands there:

    1. Grab reins. Put hands in fists. Make middle joints of fingers on both hands touch.
    2. Cross thumbs.
    3. Place hands so that wrist is touching fleec ehalf pad in front of saddle at all times.
    4. Get loose with elbows, sit up.

    It may not be the solution for everybody, and it was TERRIBLE to ride like that for the first two weeks. But once I got hold of it, suddenly everything else started coming together. It is not perfect and in the long run my trainer would like my hands a bit higher, but while I'm still having trouble keeping my hands still, she'd prefer to have them down rather than risk popping the horse in the mouth.



  6. #6
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    Aug. 3, 2004
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    hold onto the pommel or the saddle pad. when I am on the trail (in sort of two point) I will often grab a handful of mane as I trot down the trail.
    A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton



  7. #7
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    Jan. 4, 2000
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    Find out what causes it, fix that.

    If the person is posting up high, especially 'off the back of the saddle', this can cause it to be about impossible to 'just hold your hands still'. In that case, the rider needs to change how he posts. Get down into the deepest part of the saddle, don't post so high, and keep the body supple and relaxed.

    Sometimes it's due to the rider being on a horse that is far too big a mover for them. He gets thrown an impossible amount for his arms and hands to accomodate. In some cases the rider can loosen up, in some cases it is just more range of movement than that person can adjust for.

    It can be because the horse is not collected and is not bending the joints of his hind legs in a supple way. He pushes the rider up out of the saddle and the rider can't maintain his position.

    Sometimes it's due to the rider having short arms compared to the length of their waist and thigh; holding on to a saddle or strap will not be of any help in that case. The person may even find it physically impossible to keep holding onto the strap when their body raises during the posting trot.

    A similar effect can happen if the rider has a very long waist and a long thigh, especially for if the rider also has short arms. His body will move in posting far more than his arms can accomodate.

    Sometimes riders at the very start of their riding careers have to learn to not simply keep their arms at the same angle as they go up and down in the posting trot. Holding onto something can give them the idea of relaxing their arms and following that up and down posting motion.

    But if someone has been struggling along after years of riding and this habit is proving very difficult to break, or is a NEW THING when starting to ride DRESSAGE...it needs some analysis to see what's really going on and how to effectively fix it.



  8. #8
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    Aug. 26, 2003
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    Have you tried to be longe with no stirrups, holding stick in your hands ?

    Also, you could hold your hands on your hip, waiving them just to relax your hole body and follow the horse's beat.

    Good luck !
    Élène

    Fighting ovarian cancer ! 2013 huge turnaround as I am winning the battle !..
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  9. #9
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    Me thinks you need to work on fixing your seat and core strength before you can fix your hands.
    www.spindletopfarm.net
    Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
    "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"



  10. #10
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    Thanks again to everyone who responded. I am still also working on my deeper seat in the saddle and using my whole leg; thigh and calf, body back ect. I am trying to kill hunter mode but it is so hard to do



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by STF View Post
    Me thinks you need to work on fixing your seat and core strength before you can fix your hands.
    Me thinks so, too. I'd suggest something like yoga (even if you just take one private lesson with a really good instructor who can help you sort out your body and identify the parts you should be able to move independently, and then practice the exercises he/she gives you.) Most likely your shoulders are tense and that carries through your arms into your hands. But the good news is, it all can be fixed
    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht



  12. #12
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    Me thinks you need to work on fixing your seat and core strength before you can fix your hands.
    I would agree here as well. If you are holding your elbows in a tense/tight fashion, the hands will bounce with every post. The elbows should be soft and flexible and opening/closing, slightly, slightly with your posting.
    *** 4 More Years ***
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  13. #13
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    Your body has to follow your horse movements and you have to have the strength to control your body from having excess movements. Those excess movements only get in the way of the horses ability.
    Core strength takes time and lots of hours in the saddle. Like daily rides of pushing your muscles and building them, etc.
    As our dear Krya says..... "You cant control the horse until you can control you own body"
    If Im off even for 3-4 days I can tell a difference. I can get weak in my core and find myself gripping my thighs again or getting tight in my lower back. Every part of the body has to be part of the horses movements and the hands are now part of his mouth.
    Core strength is a huge important part of sucessful riding.
    www.spindletopfarm.net
    Home of Puerto D'Azur - 1998 NA 100 Day Test Champion
    "Charcter is much easier kept than recovered"



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by STF View Post
    Me thinks you need to work on fixing your seat and core strength before you can fix your hands.



    Almost without exception, your seat improving fixes your hands. Once you no longer need them to hold on with, you stop holding on with them. Your body is NOT STUPID, it's not going to let go if you'll fall off without them!

    Crude explanation but it's really the bottom line.
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  15. #15
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    Oct. 31, 2006
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    Default Hold the stirrup strap

    Take the excess end of the stirrup strap and hold it along with the rein. I learned this at a Kyra K. symposium. It really helped me. I had tried a grab strap but that keeps your hands too low (when you have short arms) and also too close together. This really works. Try it.



  16. #16
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    As you post up (elbows ON waist) push "down" with lower part of the arm to maintain a steady contact. Later as you do sitting trot your hips will be moving forward as your arms remain aligned with your upper body (following seat).
    Now in Kentucky



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    Find out what causes it, fix that.

    Sometimes it's due to the rider having short arms compared to the length of their waist and thigh; holding on to a saddle or strap will not be of any help in that case. The person may even find it physically impossible to keep holding onto the strap when their body raises during the posting trot.
    Short arms... This is partly my problem. I have tried a number of objects to use as grab straps and so far, I have not found one, but I'm totally trying this one, suggested by Pintopiaffe "Twine to the dees set at the right length will work too. ". Let me tell you, posting with a full mug of water only gets me & the horse wet.

    Almost every thing I attempt to use as a "grab" strap forces me to slouch, completely straighten my elbows, or lean forward.

    Although, I am going to say that the horses do not seem to object to my "horrible" hands while posting. And my hands don't move much when I go to sitting.

    Another problem is that I'm very literal. When you are keeping your hands "still" it is really more that you are bending your elbows. The more someone tells me to "quiet" my hands, the worse they tend to get because I start locking the elbows....which now that I've noticed that instruction causes a wrong reaction in my, I'm able to correct for it and mentally I translate "keep your hands still" to "bend your elbows".



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaddleFitterVA View Post
    Another problem is that I'm very literal. When you are keeping your hands "still" it is really more that you are bending your elbows. The more someone tells me to "quiet" my hands, the worse they tend to get because I start locking the elbows....which now that I've noticed that instruction causes a wrong reaction in my, I'm able to correct for it and mentally I translate "keep your hands still" to "bend your elbows".
    Yes! I really think the "still" is a misnomer and gets a whole lot of people confused!
    Still, in the sense here doesn't mean no movement, it's a dynamic still, you are moving with the horse, but not flopping around. Overexaggerate the arm movement (opening of the elbows) in the beginning until you get the rhythm, then refine it once you got it. Sometimes it's easier to feel it at the sitting trot. Put you hands on the front of saddle and feel how the horse almost pulls you elbows open in this position (you have to be relaxed for this), then when you got the rhythm go to posting trot, let go of the saddle and continue opening and closing you elbows in rhythm with the horse! You should see an almost immediate improvement in your horse since it feels much better to the horses mouth that way!
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by EqTrainer View Post
    :
    Almost without exception, your seat improving fixes your hands. Once you no longer need them to hold on with, you stop holding on with them.
    And sometimes as you start thinking about your hands and how to improve them, you find your seat and *voila* everything gets better. At least that's what happened with me. I couldn't yield my hands without straightening my elbows, which threw off my seat and effectively threw my horse away.

    With the help of my very patient instructor, I tried bridged reins and holding on to the bucking strap before we settled on "think about just barely touching the saddle pad in front of the pommel with your pinkies." That gave me enough guidance without tensing my arms and losing my seat. A few rides later, I had it. At about the same time, the half-halt stopped being the stuff of fiction, too.

    OP, that's what you'll have to figure out for yourself -- the mental image and physical feel that work for you. Your seat doesn't have to be perfect. Just be sure you sit up, sit back and you're "on" your seat bones (not perched). Or no amount of fiddling with your hands will really help.
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  20. #20
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    Jul. 13, 2007
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    CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by jn4jenny View Post
    I am still working on this ugly habit (same problem, moved from hunt seat to eventing where I had to learn to control my hands). This worked fo rme, although it took about 2 weeks before I felt genuinely comfortable with my hands there:

    1. Grab reins. Put hands in fists. Make middle joints of fingers on both hands touch.
    2. Cross thumbs.
    3. Place hands so that wrist is touching fleec ehalf pad in front of saddle at all times.
    4. Get loose with elbows, sit up.

    It may not be the solution for everybody, and it was TERRIBLE to ride like that for the first two weeks. But once I got hold of it, suddenly everything else started coming together. It is not perfect and in the long run my trainer would like my hands a bit higher, but while I'm still having trouble keeping my hands still, she'd prefer to have them down rather than risk popping the horse in the mouth.
    I teach my former H/J students the exact same thing. The fleece half pad is the crucial part....



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